Flat feet is among the most common foot ailments in adults and occurs when the tendons binding the foot together become loose. There are various causes of flat feet, including tendon injuries, neuromuscular disorders, conditions causing extremely flexible soft tissues, and tight achilles tendons (also known as equinogenic flat feet). In rare cases, flat feet may be caused by a condition known as tarsal coalition, which occurs when two or more of the foot’s tarsal bones fuse. Flat feet is, perhaps most commonly, caused by shoes that encourage excessive pronation.
If the underlying cause of flat feet is footwear-related, exercises that return the big toe to its normal anatomical position—that is, splayed away from the second toe—can be helpful. One such exercise is the Big Toe Stretch. Stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and calf muscles can also be an effective rehabilitative technique, but the effects can, unfortunately, be negated by wearing shoes that possess a design characteristic called heel elevation.
Other helpful ways to address or “fix” footwear-related flat feet include the use of Correct Toes toe spacers and footwear that’s completely flat from heel to toe and is widest at the ends of the toes. The combination of toe spacers and flat, wide, and flexible footwear enables natural arch support and the restoration of a healthy and functional medial longitudinal arch (i.e., the main foot arch).
Indeed, in our experience, we’ve found that wearing toe spacers and men's or women's foot-healthy footwear (i.e., footwear that allows the foot to function as nature intended) provides the foundation for developing strong foot arches and is an integral step in addressing many cases of flat feet. An aligned hallux (i.e., big toe) and a flat support surface work to naturally counteract excessive pronation. This approach should, however, be applied gradually in order to let the musculoskeletal system adapt to the changes occurring as well as to make the jump from conventional to minimalist footwear without issue. This article discusses how to transition to minimalist footwear in greater detail.
Because there are numerous possible causes of flat feet, it’s always best to check with a foot care professional before starting any new routine intended to address this problem.
To learn more about flat feet (including both conventional and natural approaches), please check out this insightful video.